For immediate release

The Compeed Golden Gala in Rome will be the third leg of the 2012 Samsung Diamond League and the first meeting in Europe after Doha (11 May) and Shanghai (19 May). The names of the stars who will take part in the Golden Gala on 31st May were unveiled today at the official press conference at the Campidoglio in Rome. The press conference was attended by FIDAL President Franco Arese, CONI General Secretary Raffaele Pagnozzi and Rome Major Gianni Alemanno. Usain Bolt, triple Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100, 200 metres and the 4x100 relay and reigning 200 metres and 4x100 relay world champion, will be in the spotlight one year after his first ever appearance on Italian soil in Rome. In 2011 Bolt grabbed the headlines at the historic Olympic Stadium when he edged out his compatriot and former 100 metres Asafa Powell and triple European sprint champion Christophe Lemaitre to win in 9.91. Powell finished second in 9.93 ahead of Lemaitre, third in 10.00. The Jamaican super-star has fulfilled his promise to return to the Eternal City this year. The clash between Bolt, Powell and Lemaitre will be renewed this year. Last year Bolt attracted more than 47000 spectators and the hope of the Golden Gala organizers is to break the attendance record this year. The star-studded 100 metres race will certainly headline this year’s edition but it will not be the only attraction of the 32nd edition of the major Italian athletics meeting. More than sixty names were announced today at the press conference. Most of the competitions features the reigning Olympic champion or the World champion Indoors or Outdoors. It will be one of the first big tests for most of the athletes in the build-up to the European Championships in Helsinki and the Olympic Games in London. Middle distance races have always produced fast times and exciting competitions and this year it will not be no exception . The stand-out name in the women’s 5000 metres will be double 5000 and 10000 metres world champion Vivian Cheruiyot who won the first two editions of the Diamond Race in the 5000 metres. The Kenyan 5000 metres record holder will take on former Olympic champion and former world record holder Meseret Defar from Ethiopia and double world silver medallist Sylvia Kibet. South African former world champion Caster Semenya, who has already made her seasonal debut running 1:59.58 on home soil, will make her debut in Rome in a high-quality 800 metres race which features Daegu 2011 world champion Maria Savinova from Russia, reigning Olympic champion and Istanbul 2012 World Indoor champion Pamela Jelimo from Kenya and 2007 world champion Janet Jepkosgei from Kenya. The Compeed Golden Gala features a long list of world champions from Daegu 2011. The top names who have confirmed their participation are Great Britain’s 400 metres hurdles World, European and Commonwealth champion David Greene who will face US 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson, Discus Throw double world champion Robert Harting from Germany in a superb competition with Olympic champion Gerd Kanter from Estonia and European champion Piotr Malachowski, World 400 metres hurdles champion and US record holder Lashinda Demus against 2010 and 2011 Diamond League winner Kaliese Spencer and Olympic champion Melaine Walker from Jamaica, shot put World and Olympic champion Valerie Adams from New Zealand against her arch-rival Nadezhda Ostapchuk from Belarus, Russian world champion Mariya Abakumova against last year’s Diamond League winner Christina Obergfoll from Germany in the women’s javelin throw. The press conference was attended by Daegu 100 metres finalist Ivet Lalova from Bulgaria and 4x100 relay European silver medallist Simone Collio. Lalova, who has been training for two years in Rieti with her boyfriend Collio under the guidance of Roberto Bonomi, will line up in the women’s 100 metres in Rome on 31 May against top Jamaican sprinters Shelly Ann Fraser, Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson. The meeting will end with 4x100 and 4x400 relays which will offer the chance to qualify for the Olympic Games in London where only the best 16 teams of the ranking will be entered. Italy will take on Great Britain, Canada, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland in the 4x100. The 4x400 relay will feature Italy, Belgium, Great Britain, South Africa, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. The Compeed Golden Gala will be the pinnacle of a great Week of Athletics events in Rome. For the third consecutive year the National Finals of the Italian School Games will be held at the Farnesina Stadium in conjunction with the Golden Gala. The tradition of the Palio dei Comuni Relay will continue in the afternoon before the start of the official programme.

 TOP ATHLETES (at 03.05.2012):